An analysis of John Donnes' "A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning"

Essay by paigelet123College, UndergraduateB, April 2003

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In the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning", by John Donne, the speaker is consoling his lover who is mournful of the speaker's imminent departure. The speaker is saying that since they have stronger than ordinary love for one another, their love will endure the separation. Donne uses metaphysical conceits and comparative imagery to illustrate the crux of the poem. The speaker is reassuring his lover by reminding her of how great their love is; it transcends the physical and therefore will overcome whatever obstacle is set on their path. He is forbidding his lover to mourn his departure.

In the first half of the poem the speaker contrasts their love between that of spiritual and material objects; the inferior actions of the earth compared to those of the heavenly "spheres" (11). He is trying to prove to his lover how their love is not of the ordinary kind; it is more than simple affection.

He compares their love to that of pure gold saying "let us melt, and make no noise" (5). Pure gold, when melted, does not spatter, it melts down smoothly. Therefore he is saying that if there love was gold it would make no noise for their love is that of the purest kind. The speaker then says that earthly things "[bring] harm and fears" (9) but since their love is above earthly matters, they should consequently not be afraid of parting. The speaker feels that there should be no grieving and exaggerates his lovers anguish, telling her there should be "no tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests" (6).

The narrator talks of "dull sublunary lovers...whose [souls are] sense'" (13/14); these lesser couples' love is based upon the five senses. He is saying that love cannot be simply based upon these senses, which are purely physical. Love...